GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new spot for coffee and cocktails will soon open its doors in Grand Rapids’ Alger Heights neighborhood.
The partners of Sip Coffee & Cocktails have spent months transforming the former medical office on the southeast corner of Eastern Avenue and Alger Street SE into a space for the community to gather over espresso drinks, craft cocktails, mocktails, artisanal flatbreads, bagels and charcuterie.
Street signs for Eastern and Alger welcome visitors as they step into the bright, warmly lit space.
“It was a fun way to bring the outside indoor,” co-owner Jonathan Farman said. “A lot of the inspiration came from New Orleans — outdoor features being brought inside.”
Outside, a mural of zinnias created by local artist Paige Rochefort covers the building’s wall.
“My grandmother had a zinnia garden growing up, so zinnias are always happiness to me when I look at them: the bright colors and just the different shapes. And so, I needed a bouquet of zinnias to welcome people when they drove into Alger Heights. And she just made that come alive in such a beautiful way,” Farman said.
“Adding this outdoor area I think altogether has just changed this whole corner of Alger Heights,” co-owner Jon Frantz added.
Farman says by day, Sip Coffee & Cocktails will operate like many coffee shops. He envisions people working on laptops while sipping their drinks inside the 1,800-square-foot space. At night, the lights will dim and the space will take on a more speakeasy feel.
“You can see the handprints from the people peeking in the windows. They’re excited,” Farman said. “People say all the time they just need a coffee shop, they want a coffee shop in Alger Heights. So yeah, I think they’re just excited. They’re excited to use it.”
“Yeah, we’re just trying to get them what they want finally. We’ve had a lot of hurdles … but it’s coming soon,” co-owner Jon Frantz added.
Frantz and Farman met in 2017 and launched their first venture together: an image consulting business.
“Our first company together was a complete flop, but I found him and we’ve been able to build what we have. So all good things have come out of it,” Farman said.
After that, Farman teamed up with Frantz again and set his sights on opening a salon near his parents’ home in Alger Heights.
Farman said the community walkability, free ample parking and the neighborhood’s community involvement made Alger Heights an attractive option.
“The community really just picked itself, in my opinion,” Farman said. “Alger Heights supports Alger Heights, that’s the cool part, and Southtown. There’s been so much support from everyone in Grand Rapids.”
This is the business partners’ first bar coffee shop. Frantz says it’s always been part of Farman’s plan since they opened the adjoining Urban Jonny’s Salon in May 2018. When they bought the building outright in January 2021, the work started.
“This was not a small project,” Farman said.
“There’s been a lot of design changes: construction, inflation, all these variables came into play. And so it’s been going back and forth of getting to the finish line, but it’s been fun. It’s been fun and a good experience,” Frantz said.
The owners are focusing on showcasing products made in and by people from West Michigan, from Bold and Gritty Coffee, launched by a couple of Grand Rapids natives, and bagels from Bagel Kitchen to flatbreads loaded with local ingredients and cocktails created by local mixologist Katie McAvoy using local spirits and house-made syrups.
“We want to promote other businesses, too,” Frantz said.
“I want people to walk in here, recognize brands that we’re using in our food, recognize coffee that we’re putting in our lattes. I want them to connect to that in a way that brings them joy and want to continue to come back,” Farman said.
Farman’s parents have been very involved in bringing his vision to fruition. Farman says his father is the project carpenter and his mother painted the café benches.
“It’s been great and people have been super supportive,” Frantz said. “We’re just hoping … to get open to everybody. But yeah, it’s been a journey,” Frantz said.
“If you know an entrepreneur, give ’em a hug. You know, they are risking everything to try and make this city more welcoming and make this city a really cool place to be … it’s small business keeping Grand Rapids alive, in my opinion,” Farman said.
Sip Coffee & Cocktails is expected to open its café in the coming weeks. The owners are hoping to welcome their first guests sometime in October. The cocktail bar will open as soon as the state liquor license is approved.
To start, the business will be open 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Evening hours will be added when the cocktail bar opens.
“We’re just so excited to get to that finish line,” Farman said.
“It feels amazing. It feels really good,” Frantz said.
Sip Coffee & Cocktails also plans to eventually open an outdoor patio that will seat about 38 people.
— Correction: A previous version misstated the name of Bagel Kitchen. We regret the error, which has been fixed.